Youth fleeing the LTTE and surrendering to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Jaffna have to languish in the Jaffna prison instead of undergoing proper rehabilitation as the government has no mechanism for such a purpose, Human Rights sources in the North revealed.
So far, a total of 52 males and one female, all below the age of 30, and many fleeing the LTTE, have surrendered to the HRC office in Jaffna. Once in HRC custody, the victims are handed over to the police, produced before a Magistrate and sent to the Jaffna prison, Human Rights sources in Jaffna told the Daily Mirror yesterday. Two youths, aged 18 and 21, from Chavakachcheri and Kaithady, surrendered to the HRC yesterday, and were handed over to the Jaffna police. Victims are kept in a separate section of the prison, under the custody of prison officials, while HRC officials make fortnightly visits to monitor their well-being, sources said.
The government, to date, has not put in place a mechanism for victims to undergo a process of rehabilitation, although many face the trauma of death threats and are victims of torture, the sources added. This is despite the HRC Jaffna office updating the HRC in Colombo and the Human Rights Ministry on the situation through regular reports. The last such report was filed on August 3, but no action has been taken to date, sources added.
The situation also poses a danger of the HRC being unable to accept more victims, due to prison overcrowding, sources said. The prison building itself is a makeshift complex of three houses surrounded by a parapet wall, leased by the Prisons Department from a private owner.